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Melbourne to Hobart Race Information

Distance 435nm                         
Safety Category 2
Start Location Portsea Pier
Start Time 1200 noon AEST
Start Date 27 Dec 22
Race Record

1d 17h 28m 59s  Shortwave 2008

Ave Speed over course 10.49kn

Known also as: Westcoaster

Melbourne to Hobart Race Map


About the Race

The  ORCV “Westcoaster” is a legendary yacht race where tactics and sailing well can crown you as the race champion, no matter the size of boat. 

Across the 435nm passage, yachts contend first with Bass Strait before taking on the wilderness and ruggness of the West Coast of Tasmania and the long ocean swell of the Southern Ocean before turning towards the finish line and the shifting winds of the Derwent.

For 50 years, the Westcoaster has provided sailors a unique race full of tactical challenges.


"35 times but never been the same race"  Robin Hewitt

 "It's a mind race, as much as it's a physical race" Rod Smallman 

"It's the K2 of ocean races, tactical and challenging"  Ian Lyall 


The Westcoast Challenge

The Melbourne to Hobart Westcoaster is a blue water ocean racing classic of unusual challenge in which seamanship, navigation and tactical skills drive the race outcome. Skippers and crews face  diverse conditions of sea state and tide uniquely associated with Bass Strait and the Southern Ocean plus wind conditions which normally include all points of sailing.


Its one of the few blue water races open to two handed competitors where short handed sailors compete against fully crewed for the major prizes.

This diversity of racing conditions reinforces the integrity of handicap systems and, as the past winner’s list demonstrates, it’s an open competition. Good boat preparation and a well found yacht are the key requirements  -  deep pockets are not required in this race which offers, at best, limited advantage from race specific yacht design.

The race starts at Portsea on the last of the outgoing tide with yachts completing the dash to Port Philip Heads, past Lonsdale Reef and clearing the potentially breaking seas at the entrance of Port Phillip Bay before the change of tide. This is the start of the 125 nautical mile Bass Strait crossing heading due south.

Bass Strait’s description as a “notorious piece of water” reflects the choppy and confused waves generated by the Strait’s relatively shallow depth and strong tidal flows  -  between the southern end of King Island and the Mainland, along the eastern side of King Island and between King Island and the NW corner of Tasmania.

For the yachtsmen the tidal flows between the top of King Island and  North West Tasmania are crucial and may affect a yachts race time by as much as 4 hours. The gap is some 35 miles wide and lies diagonally across the shortest course. The navigational objective is to choose a course which maximises speed over the ground allowing for the tidal effects through the gap and wind shifts if one passes close to the north west corner of Tasmania. Its not easy as the transit must be planned hours ahead. If night sailing is involved there are also one or two reefs to consider.

Once through the King Island gap and past the Hally Bayley and Porpoise shoals, (where breakers may be encountered) it’s a whole new world - ocean sailing in long swells, often reaching under spinnaker heading east of west with prevailing westerly winds.

The run down the coast to South West cape is 200NM past Macquarie harbour and the increasingly rugged terrain of Tasmania’s South west. If conditions are light, yachts may pass close inshore to seek advantage of local wind effects.

In other conditions the West Coast may be an altogether story. The south west coasts of Africa and Tasmania have something in common  - they both experience large swells originating in the deep South on which, in the case of Tasmania, substantial front induced waves may be superimposed. It may be blowing a steady 35kn with seas of up to 10m – although 5m long wave length swell is more the norm.

In these conditions the 40 nautical mile leg from West Cape due east past Maatsuyker Island to South East Cape can be nothing short of spectacular with many yachts surfing under “storm spinnakers” before heading north of East to Bruny Island and into the relatively sheltered waters of Storm Bay.

Its around 35 nm from Tasman Head at the bottom of Bruny Island to the Iron Pot and then a further 11 nm to the finish. Here the race is all about tactics and trimming and crews who “get this stage of the race right” may well pick up hours against their competitors. The high headlands of Bruny Island area abound in wind shadows and conditions in the last few miles up the Derwent can be complex.

The warmest of welcomes awaits the finishers at the Elizabeth Street Pier. It is a point of honour in this race that no yacht finishes unheralded and many a yachty has been roused from the local watering holes or comfy berth to meet late night or early morning finishers. Somehow a cold slab is always produced no matter what the time and the previous finishers raise three cheers in honour of the crew.



Melbourne to Hobart Westcoaster Past Results

The Heemskirk trophy is awarded to the overall winner of the Westcoaster on corrected time using the measurement handicap system with the largest number of entries. Measurement handicap systems have evolved through time. In the past 20 years the most popular measurement handicap systems used in Victoria have been the International Measurement System (IMS), The International Measurement System (IRC) and the Australian Measurement System (AMS). For the past 4 years the overall winner has competed under both IRC and AMS rating systems and has been the leader in both of the Measurement Handicap Divisions. Results since 1999 are given below.


Heemskirk Trophy


Overall Winners 

2021 Faster Forward R6155 Matt Fahey 1st AMS
2020 -   - -
2019 Archie SM35  Jeff Sloan 1st AMS, 1st IRC
2018 Whistler L77 David Alpin 1st AMS, 1st IRC
2017 Alien R880 Justin Brenan 1st AMS, 1st IRC
2016 Cadabarra 8 R420 Paul Roberts 1st AMS, 1st IRC
2015 eXtasea  G4646 Paul Buchholz     1st AMS, 1st IRC
2014 Seduction M406 Richard Nichols  1st AMS, 1st IRC
2013 Tevake II H101 Angus Fletcher   1st AMS, dnc IRC
2012 Tevake II H101 Angus Fletcher   1st AMS, dnc IRC
2011 Alien       R880 Justin Brenan 1st AMS, 2nd IRC
2010 Enchantress SA346 John Muirhead 1st AMS, 1st IRC
2009 Alien       R880 Justin Brenan 1st AMS, 2nd IRC
2008 Shortwave           52052 Mathew Short 1st AMS, 1st IRC   Record Time
2007 Race not run      
2006 A Crewed Interest SM8008 Eddie Ragauskas/ Martin Vaughan Ist AMS, Ist IRC
2005 Quetzalcoatl 2001 Joshua Ey dnc AMS, 1st IRC
2004 Under Capricorn B120 Phil Bedlington   1st AMS, 1st IRC
2003 Wavelength SM220 Keith O’Donnell  1st AMS, dnc IRC
2002 De Je Blue H621 John Nielson 1st AMS, dnc IRC
2001 Island Trader SM7681 John Chatham 1st AMS, 2nd IRC
2000 Tevake  H101 Angus Fletcher 1st AMS, dnc IMS
1999 Cadabarra 7   Nigel Jones Only boat to finish

Between 1972 and 1999 the Heemskirk trophy was awarded to the winner under the premier handicapping system of the day  but the handicapping systems varied and the system applied in any given year was not necessarily in common use nor system with the most entries.                                                   

The Overall winners in this period are listed below.

1998 Back in Business M Sabey 1984 Eastern Morning A J Collins
1997 Island Trader J Chatham 1983 Morning Hustler J H Cowell
1996 Brighton Star D Gotze 1982 Solandra W Escott
1995 Second Term Ian Twentyman 1981 Apollo II J Becher
1994 Scarborough of Cerebus P Briggs 1980 Relentless Niel Searle
1993 By Order of the Secretary F Billings/J Collins 1979 Hot Prospect Niel Searle
1992 Quit for Life J Saul 1978 Hot Prospect Jim Searle
1991 Friction C Laker 1977 Hot Prospect Jim Searl
1990 Paladin Njones/P Sajet 1976 Monsoon J Atwood
1989 Hummingbird R Abikhair 1975 Rovama B J Mercere
1988 Prime Suspect R Abikhair 1974 Pagan R Hare
1987 Challemge 3 E W Wall-Smith 1973 Appaloosa R T Spence
1986 Seaulater P Gourlay 1972 Ailsa J Marion
1985 Solandra R Escott      


Results by Division

  AMS ORC Performance Line Honours
2021 Faster Forward - M Fahey Audere - J Thring Lord Jiminy - G Leroux Lord Jiminy - G Leroux
  AMS IRC Performance Line Honours
2020 - - - -
2019 Archie - J Sloan Archie - J Sloan Soiree Bleu - D Lithgow Lord Jiminy - G Leroux
2018 Whistler - D Alpin Whistler - D Alpin Whistler - D Alpin Oskana - M Pritchard
2017 Alien - J Brenan Alien - J Brenan Force 11 - Triston Goulay/ Jamie Cooper Spirit of Downunder - L Ford
2016 Cadibarra 8 - P Roberts Cadibarra 8 - P Roberts Cadibarra 8 - P Roberts Cadibarra 8 - P Roberts
2015 eXtasea - P Buchholz eXtasea - P Buchholz eXtasea - P Buchholz eXtasea - P Buchholz
2014 Seduction - R  Nochols Seduction - R  Nochols Seduction - R  Nochols Spirit of Downunder - L Ford
2013 Tevake II - A Fletcher eXtasea - P Buchholz Tevake II - A Fletcher eXtasea - P Buchholz
2012 Tevake II - A Fletcher Bandit - A Trebilcock Tevake II - A Fletcher eXtasea - P Buchholz
2011 Alien - J Brenan eXtasea - P Buchholz Alien - J Brenan eXtasea - P Buchholz
2010 Enchantress - J Muihead Enchantress - J Muihead Enchantress - J Muihead Gusto - Briar Pattinson
2009 Alien - J Brenan Jazz Player - A Lawrence Jazz Player - A Lawrence Jazz Player - A Lawrence
2008 Tevake II - A Fletcher Shortwave - M Short Spirit of Downunder - L Ford Shortwave - M Short
2007 Rudder Cup Centenary - Melbourne Hobart run via Eastcoast only      
2006 A Crewed Interest -E Ragauskas /M Vaughan A Crewed Interest -E Ragauskas /M Vaughan A Crewed Interest -E Ragauskas /M Vaughan No Fearr - M Hannaford
2005 Tevake II - A Fletcher Quetzalcoatal - J Ey By Order of the Secretary - G Shaw Helsal II - B Rawson
2004 Under Capricorn - P Bedlington Under Capricorn - P Bedlington Under Capricorn - P Bedlington Quetzalcoatal - J Ey
2003 Wavelengtth - J McGill Magazan 53 - G Roswell Rumbeat - G Henderson Indic Merit - D Gotze/I Treleaven
2002 De Ja Blue - J Nielsen Magazan 53 - N McGuigan De Ja Blue - J Nielsen Kontrol - P Blake
2001 Island Trader - J Chatham Anaconda - M Contessi San Miguel - G Clapham Kontrol - P Blake
2000 Tevake - A Fletcher Colour Solutions* - J Kellett Anaconda - M Contessi Wild One - g Smith
1999 Cadabarra 7 - N Jones Cadabarra 7* - N Jones Cadabarra 7 - N Jones Cadabarra 7 - N Jones
    * IMS - IRC introduced in 2001    
    Both IRC and IMS run in 2001 - IMS won by Tilting at Windmills* - T Gunnersen    


Race Documents - Click here
Race Entry - Click here
Yachts Entered - Click here


Saturday, 01 January 2022 09:17

Sydney 38 ‘Faster Forward’ takes handicap win in ORCV Melbourne to Hobart  One of the smallest yachts in the fleet, a Sydney 38, has won the Ocean Racing Club of Victoria Melbourne to Hobart ‘West Coaster’ Race on handicap. Matt Fahey and his crew of six sailed Faster Forward across the Derwent River finish line in Hobart at two minutes past three this morning, after more than three days at sea. For a race traditionally won by bigger boats, Faster Forward’s victory is a dream come true for Fahey and proof that experienced crew, very good light wind sailing and making the right course...

Saturday, 01 January 2022 09:15

Lord Jiminy Takes Line Honours for the Second Time At one o’clock yesterday afternoon skipper of Lord Jiminy, Guillaume Leroux, set his Class 40 to round Bruny Island. As he set course for Hobart’s finish line, he had sealed the fate of the rest of the fleet. Good timing, great sailing and a dedicated crew of just four had achieved a dream with a second Line Honours win in the tough Westocoaster having won in 2019, (cancelled in 2020). This 485 nautical mile race has been one of the slowest in its 49-year history. The race record set by Shortwave in 2008 was never under threat. It was...

Friday, 31 December 2021 01:44

Melbourne to Hobart Line Honours goes to Lord Jiminy  Guillaume Leroux’s Class 40 Lord Jiminy has claimed line honours in a challenging Melbourne to Hobart yacht race that was beset by range of strong and light winds, before ending with a perfect afternoon sea breeze in Hobart’s Derwent River. Lord Jiminy is Class 40 design and 13m in length and held a comfortable lead throughout the later stages of the race. Lord Jiminy has claimed back to back line honours wins. Lord Jiminy crew after the race Lord Jiminy crossed the line shortly after 6:20 pm in a time of three days, 3 hours,...

Thursday, 30 December 2021 15:05

Line Honours Lord Jiminy approaching the Derwent River Melbourne to Hobart fleet close in on the finish  Legends of the Melbourne to Hobart “Westcoaster” race talk about it being a race in four parts.  What they don’t talk about, as often, is the sometimes ‘Run Run Stop’ nature, of the race.  It is, in part, what makes the race so challenging. This year the fleet got away well; then had some fluky overnight winds near King Island.  Followed by a good run to above Strahan before hitting another weather hole.  Last night the wind filled in nicely driving the fleet...

Wednesday, 29 December 2021 13:49

All’s quiet on the Western Coast of Tasmania  As the Melbourne to Hobart fleet suffer with fickle light winds.  Seven of the Melbourne to Hobart fleet made the unusual choice to round King Island to the west, most of them have now made it back to the rhumbline.  Only after the results come in will we know whether east versus west was the correct decision.  For at least one yacht, Audere, sticking to the traditional route does seem to have worked well. Skipper Josh Thring’s Beneteau First 45 Audere is currently leading from some of its larger and faster rivals. ...